Deer and Man Poached

A new breed of hunters appears to have dug in its heels in India. They bag rare and endangered wild animals and birds which under the law are banned for hunting. In fact, one shall need an official permit even for keeping them in captivity.

Ganga Ram Bishnoi was gunned down by a gang of poachers at Meena ki Dhani village 70 Km North West of Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India, on 11 August 2000, while he tried to stop them from opening fire on the Indian Gazelles roaming around his open fields. A dead Gizelle was found dead nearby with bullet wounds on its left thigh.

Bishnois from surrounding villages jammed the spot, determined not to bury the body of their colleague until the poachers were arrested. One of them surrendered. But the desert folk were not to be cooled down. With prolonged persuation by a person of the rank of the Minister, post Mortem of the body was performed and it was buried at a central place in the village. People were pouring on to the spot to pay homage to the dead.

"He is now a martyr" remarked Hanuman Singh Bishnoi of Kelansar, " we have long tradition to save the wildlife and prefer to give away life in the process." The Bishnois are about 500 old community, practising Nature Conservation as part of their religion! The Indian desert has largest concentration of Gazelles. It also has maximum population of Bishnoi people. For centuries both have co-existed to maintain sustainable living under conditions of hardships in this vast srid zone.

An immediate cash assistance of Rs. 11,000/- was made available for the family of the bereaved by Mr. Harsh Vardhan, a wildlife expert at Jaipur. He has demanded from the Government (a) suitable cash help to the family, and (b) posthumous award to the Bishnoi who set the unique example.

Some film celebrities were about to be caught red-handed poaching the Gazelles in areas around Jodhpur two years ago by the Bishnoi people. They weer, however, arrested from their palace hotel in Jodhpur by the police and the forest authorities. The legal proceedings continue against them. Such incidents of poaching continue here but are seldom reported to police. Bishnois, however, keep strict vigi over gun totong elements.

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